China panda gives birth to twins: state media

By AFP

June 18, 2010 Updated Jul 29, 2010 at 2:17 PM EST

A giant panda in northern China has given birth to twins, state media said Wednesday in rare good news for a species facing the threat of extinction.

Six-year-old Lousheng delivered a male and female cub in Shaanxi province on Tuesday after being artificially inseminated -- the same process by which she was born, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The Shaanxi Rare Wildlife Rescue and Breeding Research Centre is now home to 20 pandas, including the two newborns, the report said.

Sperm from two males was used to inseminate Lousheng, so the identity of the father will only be revealed after the cubs undergo DNA tests, the report quoted Ma Qingyi, head of the panda centre's veterinary hospital, as saying.

The news comes two days after conservation group WWF warned that rapid economic development in China was damaging the panda's habitat, heightening the risk of extinction in just two to three generations.

The animals also have notoriously low libidos, frustrating efforts to boost their numbers.

There are about 1,590 pandas living in the wild in China, mostly in southwestern Sichuan, Shaanxi and northwestern Gansu provinces. At least 180 have been bred in captivity, according to earlier reports.




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